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28 January 2014

Maintenance and cappuccinos

We have been cooped up in Rodney Bay Marina St Lucia for the last four days, mixing leisurely breakfasts with frantic activities for the rest of the day. 
The forward head macerator came back to life as mysteriously as it had stopped functioning, after we successively changed every mechanical and electrical part. 
This gave the opportunity for many boat Pilates sessions.
Meanwhile, we installed new solar fuses, ordered a complete new set of electronic equipment from Raymarine after the failure of our main nav computer (Ouch!), serviced the diesel engine, and had our life raft serviced. And oh yes a fix to the AC system.

But it is not all fun - we also had to swallow gigantic cappuccinos and large breakfasts ashore. Not to mention a superb Indian dinner at Razmataz and a great roti at BB's.

23 January 2014

Back in St Lucia

Day eight 22 January 2014

We said our goodbyes to George Small, the local anchor boy, around 0700 as we were raising anchor in Chateaubelair. Traveling north along the coast we could see the damage of the heavy rains in the unnaturally widened riverbeds.

After motoring along the coast to Baleine we set sail towards St Lucia for a very fast passage, first close hauled and gradually moving to a close reach thanks to a bit of southing in the trades. We averaged 7.5kt with top speeds at 9.4kt, a very lively thing with the wind ahead of the beam.

We had originally thought of clearing in in Soufrière, but with the speedy passage, a roll-free night was beckoning in Marigot, 10 or 12 miles north. We picked up a mooring in the lagoon, checked in and fell onto some soup and pizza. Our first landside shower in two weeks followed, an orgy of warm water. Shortly thereafter all was still in the bunks.

21 January 2014

Still northwards in small steps

Day Six Canouan to Bequia - Jan 20
Leaving the nice, broad anchorage of Canouan, we wondered if some Santa Ana effect from the island's hills was going on - conditions were supposed to be moderate but we were registering 25-30k gusts. Turning the corner of the island, there was no doubt - the winter trades were at full force, feeling like a wall and the seas like a washing machine, including some respectable 12 footers. We followed two Swedish vessels motorsailing in the same direction and conditions gradually improved as we neared Bequia. In Admiralty Bay, we grabbed one of the much maligned moorings, this being the place where you can (and will) drag anchor with 5 scope chain 3 days down. 

Day Seven Bequia to Chateaubelair, St Vincent - Jan 21
The next morning, a visit to the jewel (or is it jewelry?) of the Caribbean food stores, Doris, was in order before checking out of St Vincent. We set off from Bequia and had a dreamlike experience crossing to StVincy - BEAM REACH. Who remembered this existed? Flying on a magic carpet at 8+ knots to the main island, then a slow 6-7 kt reach to our destination, with time to chat, polish metal and see the little villages of the coast go by. 

A couple of showers refreshed us as we neared Chateaubelair.

The local anchoring advisor, George Small, was again on hand to provide information on the best spots on the narrow shelf and we put the hook down with only one other boat in the bay (Cumberland Bay had about 10 yachts).

After the disastrous torrential rains of end December we were happy to contribute a little bit in the form of clothes, food and money.

A serene evening on board, with tiny fishes jumping all around the boat.

Northwards in small steps

Just as we left Prickly Bay in Grenada, our venerable Raymarine multi-function more or less gave up the ghost, leaving us without charting and radar. Since we use Navionics on IPad / IPhone for electronic charts, it was not a disaster, but we recalibrated our itinerary to day sailing only to account for the missing radar.

Baby Step Day One Jan 15 2014
We moved just a few miles in Grenada from Prickly Bay to the anchorage in front of Port Louis. The lovely dinner at BB's Crabback was somewhat offset by an extremely rolly night.

Day Two Jan 16 2014
An upwind passage to Carriacou's Tyrrel Bay, where we enjoyed two long and busy breakfasts at the newly opened Gallery Cafe, a comfortable, cheery place with nice food and a great internet connection. We cleared out of Grenada at the recently added Tyrrel Bay Customs. We cooked a lobster two ways (queue de langouste sautée au pernod -- and lobster water). We ate a great burger and vegetarian pasta at the Slipway restaurant. We also bought a giant, fresh ciabatta! Tyrrel Bay has definitely come up in the world.

Day Four Jan 18 2014
A short and fairly brutish upwind passage to Clifton Harbour, Union Island, where we proudly performed  "french style" anchoring in the crowded anchorage in 25kt wind. Clifton Harbour is still beautiful, and Happy Island is still -- happy!

We went ashore to visit the fruit and vegetable ladies and to clear into St. Vincent, and cooked a vegetarian meal of eggplant and onion curry.

Day Five Jan 19 2014
A quick hop from Union Island to Charleston Bay, Canouan. We had skipped Canouan in the last few seasons, finding it a bit less friendly than other islands, but this time we had a nice walk, nice chats with locals and tried the excellent local restaurant Mangrove -- the Tamarind Beach has been bought by the casino/resort corporation that owns half the island. 

We walked to the windward side and saw a fishing complex built by the Japanese a few years back. Obviously, the Queen Conch is still abundant.  In the background, you can see Mayreau with Union behind it.


12 January 2014

Back in the water - finding our stride

Final bottom paint touchup

We splashed on Friday without  problem but with the usual last minute flurry of activities like re-tensioning the rigging. We anchored a short distance away in Prickly Bay, as we had doubts about our outboard engine (there had been no mechanic available to service it). Though running, it was spewing gas at a great rate- time for rowing, not a problem with our little Walker Bay dinghy. On Saturday we rowed to customs, dropped the engine for repair, provisioned the boat, then rowed back for some pizza and rum punch in the evening.
Sunday the weather turned nicer, still blustery but no more rain squalls, and we had our first swim in tropical waters, delightful as always from the stern. Susan restarted cooking our Caribbean repertoire, with a Callaloo Soup.
We are still sorting, cleaning, and getting adjusted to the permanent roll of Prickly Bay - the landlubber will be out of us in a few bruises.


07 January 2014

Another season begins -- a bit late

JP and Susan arrived in Grenada January 5 to retrieve Raconteur and reassure her that she had not been permanently abandoned.  Spice Island Marine and Island Dreams had taken good care of her, so Monday morning was not much of a shock (always horrific to see her totally dismantled, even though we left her that way last May).  We both feel we became totally soft on shore and are now painfully readjusting.  In a strange pattern for the dry season, it has rained about 25 times in the first 48 hours here.  But we have surrendered once again to being dirty, sweaty and wet most of the time, so it is not too bad - just a bit of scurrying now and then.  Do we have an umbrella?  No idea!  Thanks to Da Big Fish and the Dodgy Dock, we have had our first callaloo soup, pumpkin soup, cheeseburger in Paradise and Ting already.  Photos were taken on the phone and will be posted if they are not too ugly.  As we've experienced before, there's a feeling of coming home on returning to Grenada.